This week, I’ve been kept busy at work; out visiting clients and on Wednesday I had to attend “Equality & Diversity” training. It was an interesting session, full of useful facts and figures about the ethnic mix of people in the UK such as what percentage of workers are from black and minority ethnic groups, how many women are in part time employment, how many lesbian and gay people have experienced homophobia in the workplace and other gems that I’ll probably never need!
The woman delivering the session from Head Office was very nice and very knowledgable about her subject. I got a bit p*ssed off with her when she insisted that gay men and women should be referred to as “Lesbian and Gay Men”. Afte the session had ended I went to her , and playing devil’s advocate I asked who had decided on that label. Her reply was that all her information was taken from Government sources. I then asked her whether she’d ever asked a gay man or woman how they like to be referred to. She said she hadn’t. I said perhaps she ought to. She replied that she didn’t know any lesbian or gay men to ask. I told her not to be so sure, we don’t all wear badges.
It took a few minutes for that one to sink in! Once it had she went bright red and changed the subject. I hate political correctness for the sake of it!
So, if you can’t think for yourself and don’t trust yourself not to put your foot in it and really want to know what words to use without offending anyone who may be gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered or alien, here’s a short Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual Glossary of Terms.
Fear of bisexuals, often based on inaccurate stereotypes, including associations with infidelity, promiscuity and transmission of sexually transmitted diseases.
An individual who is physically, romantically, emotionally and/or spiritually attracted to men and women. Bisexuals need not have had equal sexual experience with both men and women; in fact, they need not have had any sexual experience at all to identify as bisexual.
Legal non religious recognition of committed relationships either MM, MF or FF.
Describes a person who is not open about his or her sexual orientation.
A lifelong process of self-acceptance. People forge a lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender identity first to themselves and then may reveal it to others. Publicly identifying one’s sexual orientation may or may not be part of coming out.
The adjective used to describe people whose enduring physical, romantic, emotional and/or spiritual attractions are to people of the same sex (e.g., gay man, gay people). In contemporary contexts, lesbian (n.) is often a preferred term for women. Avoid identifying gay people as “homosexuals”
Heterosexual Man / Woman
A person whose enduring physical, romantic, emotional and/or spiritual attraction is to people of the opposite sex. Also straight.
The attitude that heterosexuality is the only valid sexual orientation. Often takes the form of ignoring lesbians, gay men and bisexuals. For example: a feature on numerous Valentine’s Day couples that omit same-sex couples.
Outdated clinical term considered derogatory and offensive by many gay people. Gay and/or lesbian accurately describe people who are attracted to members of the same sex.
Fear of lesbians and gay men. Prejudice is usually a more accurate description of hatred or antipathy toward LGBT people.
A woman whose enduring physical, romantic, emotional and/or spiritual attraction is to other women. Avoid identifying lesbians as “homosexuals,” a derogatory term.
LGBT / GLBT
Acronyms for “lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender.” LGBT and/or GLBT are often used because they are more inclusive of the diversity of the community.
Inaccurate term often used by anti-gay extremists to denigrate lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender lives. Avoid using. As there is no one heterosexual or straight lifestyle, there is no one lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender lifestyle.
Describes people who self-identify as lesbian or gay in their public and/or professional lives. Also openly lesbian, openly bisexual, openly transgender.
The act of publicly declaring (sometimes based on rumor and/or speculation) or revealing another person’s sexual orientation without his or her consent. Considered inappropriate by a large portion of the LGBT community.
Traditionally a pejorative term, queer has been appropriated by some LGBT people to describe themselves. Some value the term for its defiance and because it can be inclusive of the entire LGBT community. Nevertheless, it is not universally accepted even within the LGBT community and should be avoided unless quoting someone who self-identifies that way.
The scientifically accurate term for an individual’s enduring physical, romantic, emotional and/or spiritual attraction to members of the same and/or opposite sex, including lesbian, gay, bisexual and heterosexual orientations. Avoid the offensive term “sexual preference,” which is used to suggest that being gay or lesbian is a choice and therefore “curable.”
Thanks to GLAAD for the input!